Former International Math Olympiad champion Fu Yunhao has received waves of support from netizens after he contested a feature in Portrait magazine that had portrayed him as a “fallen genius.”
According to a Beijing News report on Monday, the author of the profile, an intern reporter named Wu Chengjie, has had his journalistic ethics called into question over the story. “I have been reflecting on all the constructive criticism I’ve received,” Wu told Sixth Tone on Monday.
As a teenager, Fu achieved a perfect score in the Math Olympiads of 2002 and 2003. Now 33, he works as a math teacher at the primary and secondary school levels. But Wu’s article depicts the teacher as a melancholic figure stuck in the memory of his past success.
The 11,000-word feature, published Thursday, uses black-and-white images of Fu posing in various locations that suggest isolation. “The first 18 years of Fu’s life were spent dominating the realm of mathematics,” the article says. “It could be said that Fu was ‘doomed’ to be a Math Olympiad champion.”
The article — for which Wu interviewed Fu, his mother, and former teachers — also implied that Fu dropped out of his degree program at the prestigious Peking University because of his lack of ability in other subjects, which led to him settling for a position as a schoolteacher. “Sorrow, madness, and depravity” is how Wu describes Fu’s first two years after leaving university.
The next day, Fu responded in a post on WeChat. “I am a little surprised at the content of the article,” he wrote. According to Fu, little of his 10-hour interview with Wu was included in the feature. While he did not dispute the facts of the story, he explained that he did not regret becoming a teacher, and that he hoped to improve primary and secondary education. “The pursuit of academia should be for the betterment of society and the nation,” he wrote.
Users on microblog platform Weibo jumped to Fu’s defense, taking the writer to task for implying that the honorable profession of teaching could be considered a mark of failure.
“I can’t seem to see where the failure lies,” one wrote. “Is it because he chose a path that did not seem like a fitting choice for a Math Olympiad champion? Instead, I see the struggle and reflection that he has gone through in his life.”
Editor: Qian Jinghua.
(Header image: Digital Vision/VCG)